Game: The Sandbox Evolution
Developer: PIXOWL INC.
Publisher: PIXOWL INC.
More than anything, The Sandbox Evolution’s colourful levels and crystal clear instructions on how to manipulate the natural world feel like a masterclass in game design. Instantly engaging, its simple yet well-designed tutorial succeeds in onboarding players with the basics: You’re a sandbox god (literally, I think it’s Zeus) and have full access to a malleable world you can nip and tuck with weather cycle changes, plants, elements and more all for a price, which is represented in mana. If you’ve ever wanted the freedom to create your own 2D pixel universe, complete with multi-ethnic chibis, lasers, animals, and game staples like coins, treasure chests and crazy enemies, look no further.
The Sandbox Evolution is split into pre-set worlds and a create feature, in addition to daily quests, all of which earn you mana so you can level up. At first, creating and shaping your own world (as I did above) is just incredibly fun; Seeing how random combinations of game assets play out with each other is always entertaining, often hilarious, and the main reason why I think Super Mario Maker is enjoying such popularity. There’s a game design aspect too: You can create your own runner, music, zombie platformer and pixel art, and it’s really only restricted by mana since the good majority of things need to be purchased, but that’s essentially the driving force behind gameplay – play, collect mana, unlock things, repeat. Once you get bored of that there’s a bunch of user generated content including Christmas Eve, What Trump’s really doing and a 16 bit rendition of Fallout. Heck, there’s even a pleasant throwback to Lemmings. The relaxing, ambient orchestral background music in the menu could literally go on for hours and I wouldn’t notice, but the soundtrack is really bouncy, playful and catchy as a whole, and complements the wonderful variety of game modes.
As a casual sort of game, it’s rather easy to become invested in The Sandbox Evolution, whether your focus is levelling up, completing all the challenges in a given world or concocting something crazy. But even when you’ve mastered it all or grow tired of doing the sandbox god’s work, it’s the type of game you can always keep coming back to.
The Sandbox Evolution is out now on Steam for $9.99 USD.
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.